Media Release by The Hon John Cobb MP

Labor Wrong Again

The Minister for Community Services, John Cobb, today rejected claims by Member for Sydney, Tanya Plibersek, that the Australian Government is failing women and children escaping family violence.

‘Family breakdown often involves domestic violence where women and accompanying children seek assistance for housing and other services,’ Mr Cobb said.

In 2004-05 the joint state/federal government Support Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) provided accommodation and/or support services to some 157,200 people, including 56,800 accompanying children.

In its report released in January 2006, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) found that SAAP was meeting the needs of most people through its network of almost 1,300 agencies.

‘Where SAAP cannot always accommodate the needs of a small group of people, it does provide them with options like referral for accommodation at other services, help with financial assistance for hotels, and material aid, advice and information,’ Mr Cobb said.

Mr Cobb said the Australian Government has committed $932 million over five years from 2005-06 to SAAP. Together with state and territory funding, SAAP will receive $1.8 billion over the five years, an increase of almost $350 million from the previous five-year agreement.

‘Under the current SAAP agreement, almost $120 million will be available for investment and innovation projects to assist the states and territories to find practical and innovative ways to help address the needs of those at risk of homelessness.

‘The Australian Government is providing $4.75 billion over 5 years from 2003 to 2008 under the Commonwealth/State Housing Agreement. This provides funding for public and community housing, as well as crisis accommodation.

‘The Government also provides well over $2 billion per year in rent assistance to around 950,000 families and individuals.

‘Other Australian Government programs designed to assist women and children include the Family Violence Partnership Programme, the Family Violence Regional Activities Programme, the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Programme, the National Indigenous Family Violence Grants Programme and the Women’s Safety Agenda.

‘Stamp duties, land tax, gambling revenues and GST are now delivering windfall revenues to state and territory governments. GST revenue alone will provide states and territories around $39 billion in 2006-07. The states and territories should lift their game and use this income to provide housing and other services for women and children escaping domestic violence,’ Mr Cobb said.